If you read my previous blog, you know that I recently had surgery for a strangulated ovary and that I wrote about the first five things I learned while in the hospital – mostly involving my experiences in the emergency room and the operating room. Now I want to share five more interesting things I learned from my hospital stay.
6. Your caregivers are human. Hospital nurses and other caregivers are generally not only well-trained, hardworking and very efficient – they are also people. Many of them have to put up with mental and even physical abuse from their patients – all of whom are varying degrees of miserable and none of whom want to be where they are. Several of my caregivers showed themselves to be wonderfully compassionate and exquisitely human, and a few were even grateful for someone to focus on them for just a minute or two – their personal lives and loves and losses and challenges. Like the young nurse from Malawi who was so thrilled to learn we had contributed to MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell’s KIND (Kids in Need of Desks) Fund. Like the physician assistant who had trained tigers and dolphins before learning to work with humans. Like the widowed nurse whose daughter was about to be deployed as a critical care nurse in Afghanistan and who always waited for signs from the Lord
7. Hospital meal service is not very therapeutic. I’ll say one thing for hospital food – it’s better than starvation. At my local hospital, it was called “Room Service” – kind of like in a posh hotel, except it wasn’t. Although most hospital food services are managed by registered dieticians that are certainly well-intentioned, many fall far short by my standards. (Cancer Treatment Centers of America is a notable exception – and guess who was flown out to help plan menus for their first facility in Zion, IL?)
Hospital dietary choices often contain junk ingredients like artificial flavors and colors, high fructose corn syrup, and synthetic sweeteners, as well as heavy dairy and gluten. The menu I was given provided many choices, but out of 42 breakfast offerings, there were only 13 that I would even consider putting into my body, let alone choose for their true healing qualities. Out of 60 lunch and dinner options, the number was 14. Out of 20 beverage options, only five, and out of 10 desserts, zero. You will heal much more quickly and much more completely if you learn how to make wise food choices. Use the knowledge we provide at BeatCancer.org to make the healthiest choices possible.
8. Little goals count. After my surgery, the Queen of Plan Ahead became the Princess of Play by Ear! For someone whose whole professional career has been about how much work I can pack into a day and how many accomplishments I can churn out in a week, my hospital stay taught me that tiny things that I used to take for granted – like drinking a glass of water, getting out of bed by myself, being able to pee on my own, standing at the sink to brush my teeth, and taking a walk down the hall – meant a great deal to me. They were usually what my whole day was about. (Now that I can easily do all that for myself again, and knowing that others are not always that fortunate, I really appreciate my blessings even more than before.
9. It’s okay to be dependent. After my surgery, my horoscopes began consistently saying “learn to ask for help.” For someone used to being fiercely independent, that was a hard lesson. It’s humbling to need to be dependent on someone else for even the smallest task, but learn I did. (What’s not in your best health interests, of course, is being dependent on someone else all the time and especially wanting things to stay that way!
10. Prayer helps a lot. The support of family and friends—if you are lucky enough to have them — is comforting and helpful. But even if you feel alone, you will always have God’s support, and prayer can work wonders. I always pray for His help to get through a challenge, but I have found that praying to be well enough to be able to continue to serve others and do His work is even more effective. If you are ill, pray for clarity as to what special gift you are here to share with the world and how to make that happen, and the Universe can do no less than to grant you that opportunity.